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CALIFORNIA CULTURE PROVINCES



BY
A. L. KROEBER



University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology
Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 151-169



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Vol.1. 1. Life and Culture of the Hupa, by Pliny Earle Goddard. Pp. 1-88; plates

2. Hupa Texts, by Pliny Earie~~Godda7d7"^ " ? J nn

Index, pp. 369-378.
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2. The Languages of the Coast of Caj^ornia'sonth'of San ^^ Francisco" "by AT L" '

Kroeber. Pp. 29-80, with a map. June, 1904 60

3. Types of Indian Culture in California, by A. L. Kroeber." Pp." sillbs". Junej

iyU4: ..,.._......_..._. ....,....__,....... OK

4. Basket Designs of the Indians of Northwestern " CaUfornia """""

Kroeber. Pp. 105-164; plates 15-21. January, 1905 75

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165-377. January, 1907 _ 225

Index, pp. 379-392.
Vol. 3. The Morphology of the Hupa Language, by Pliny Earle Goddard. 344 PD

- - L ...'. 3.50

Vol. 4. 1. The Earliest Historical Relations between Mexico and Japan, from original
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April, 1906 ^

2. Contribution to the Physical A^thropology""o7"californii""based 'on'co"liec^
Ions in the Department of Anthropology of the University of California
and in the U. S. National Museum, by Ales Hrdlicka. Pp. 49-64 with
5 tables; plates 1-10, and map. June, 1906 75

5. The Shoshonean Dialects of California, by A, L." Kroeber!""pp"""65-166"

February, 1907 1>50

4. Indian Myths from South Central Caiifornia,"by ~~A. ' L. Kroeber "'pt>' 167-

250. May, 1907 _ _ 76

6. The Washo Language of East Central California' "and ' Nevada," by" A. 1,7

Kroeber. Pp. 251-318. September, 1907 75

6. The Religion of the Indians of California, by A. ii. Kroeber. PpT 319-356"

September, 1907 K O

Index, pp. 357-374.
Vol.5. 1. The Phonology of the Hupa Language; Part I, The Individual Sounds, by

Pliny Earle Goddard. Pp. 1-20, plates 1-8. March, 1907 . 35

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4. The Material Culture of the Klamath Lake and Modoc Indians of North-

eastern California and Southern Oregon, by S. A. Barrett. Pp. 239-292
plates 10-25. June, 1910 >75

5. The Chimariko Indians and Language, by Roland B.Dixon. Pp. 293-380.

August, 1910 _ j go

Index, pp. 381-384.
Vol. 6. 1. The Ethno-Geography of the Porno and Neighboring Indians, by Samuel

Alfred Barrett. Pp. 1-332, maps 1-2. February, 1908 _ 325

2. The Geography and Dialects of the Miwok Indians, by Samuel Alfred

Barrett. Pp. 333-368, map S.

3. On the Evidence of the Occupation of Certain Regions by the Miwok

Indians, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 369-380.

Nos. 2 and 3 in one cover. February, 1908 .50

Index, pp. 381-400.
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text figures. June, 1907 2. 1.25

2. Recent Investigations bearing upon the Question of the bccurrence "of
Neocene Man in the Auriferous Gravels of California, by William J
Sinclair. Pp. 107-130, plates 13-14, February, 1908 .35



CALIFORNIA CULTURE PROVINCES



BY

A. L. KROEBER



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PUBLICATIONS IN

AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND ETHNOLOGY.

Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 151-169, 2 maps

Issued September 28, 1920



|ncroft Library

o&Ultf*

CALIFORNIA CULTURE PROVINCES 1



BY
A. L. KROEBER



More or less outright and implied reference has become customary,
in ethnological works dealing with California, to three or four areas
of culture, or ethnic provinces, distinguishable in the state. 2 Roughly,
the Tehachapi range and the vicinity of Point Concepcion mark off the
southern from the central type of civilization, while the northwestern
type extends south to a line running from Mt. Shasta to Cape
Mcndocino or a little to the south thereof. East of the crest of the
Sierra Nevada the culture of central California changes into that of
Nevada, or more properly of the Great Basin. In the south, the
Colorado river, with some of the adjoining desert, must be set apart
from the mountain and coast tracts. In summary fashion, these areas
may be delineated as in map 1.

Yet any map of this nature creates an erroneous impression of
internal uniformity and coherence. Thus, all in all, it is true that the
"central" Yokuts are probably more similar to the "central" Wintun
in the totality of their life than to the "southern" Gabrielino. But
innumerable cultural elements have reached the Yokuts from the
south, and they themselves have very likely developed local peculiari-
ties of which some have filtered across the mountains to the Gabrielino.
Consequently any statement which tended to create the impression
that the Yokuts and Wintun belonged to a block of nations in which
certain traits were standard and exclusive, would mislead.

Just so in the northwest. The moment the Yurok and Hupa are
left behind, central Californian traits begin to appear even among
their most immediate neighbors. These traits increase in number and
intensity among the peoples to the south and east. After a time we
find ourselves among tribes such as the Coast Yuki, who undoubtedly
appertain to the central province, yet who still make string or bury
the dead or do various other separate things in the most distinctive
northwestern manner.



1 Based on chapter 57 of "The Indians of California," a prospective Bulletin
of the Bureau of American Ethnology: by permission.

2 For instance, "Types of Indian Culture in California," present series, H,
81-103, 1904.



152 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 17

CULTURE FOCI

Certain centers or hearths of the several types of culture, on the
other hand, become apparent rather readily, and, moreover, fuller
information, instead of distracting and confusing the impressions first
formed, strengthens them : the focus of each culture becomes narrower
and more distinct.

Thus there seems no possible ground to doubt that the center of
gravity and principal point of influence of the northwestern culture
was the limited area occupied by the Yurok, Karok, and Hupa ; with
primacy among these to be attributed probably to the Yurok.

The heart of the central province is not quite so definite, but un-
questionably lay between the Porno, the more southerly Wintun, and
the Valley Maidu ; with the southern Wintun, as the middle one of the
three, by far the most likely leaders.

In the south, one center is recognizable on or near the coast. The
most developed peoples about this center were the Chumash, Gabrielino,
and Luiseno. As regards religion and institutions, we happen to know
much the most about the Luiseno; but there is direct evidence that
a considerable part of Luiseno religion was imported from the
Gabrielino, and precedence must therefore be given to this people. As
to the choice between them and the Chumash, the Gabrielino must
again be favored. Our knowledge of Chumash practices is scant, but
there is so complete an absence of any indication that they seriously
influenced the institutions of their neighbors, that their civilization,
at least on this side, can hardly have had the potency of that of the
Gabrielino. A complication is indeed caused by material culture, which,
so far as it can be reconstructed from early descriptions and par-
ticularly through the evidence of archaeology, was most developed
among the Chumash or among that special 'branch of the Gabrielino
who through their island habitat were in closest communication with
the Chumash. Again, however, Chumash example did not reach far,
and it is therefore likely that it is a localized development of tech-
nology which confronts us among the Chumash as against a much
more penetrating and influential growth of social and religious insti-
tutions among the Gabrielino.

The hearth of the type of culture which radiated from the Colorado
river must beyond doubt be sought either among the Mohave or the
Yuma. As between the two, the Mohave are probably entitled to
precedence, both because they were the more populous tribe, and



1920]



Kroeber: California Culture Provinces



153




Map 1. Provinces and sub-provinces of native civilization on the Pacific
Coast of the United States. Arrows indicate cultural irradiations.



154 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 17

because it appears to be solely their influence which has reached to
northern groups like the Chemehuevi, whereas southern tribes like
the Diegueno give unmistakable evidence of having been affected by
the Mohave as well as by the nearer Yuma.

Geographical position, on the other hand, would point to the Yuma,
who are not only more centrally situated than the Mohave with refer-
ence to tribes of the same lineage, but have their seats at the mouth
of the chief affluent of the Colorado, the Gila, up and down which
there must have gone considerable communication with the Pima, the
non-Yuman people of the Southwest who on the whole seem to be
culturally most nearly related to the Yumans of the Colorado valley.
The Yuma had the Cocopa and other groups below them toward the
mouth of the river, but above the Mohave as well as to their west
there lived only Shoshoneans. Further, the Diegueiio and the various
Yuman groups of the northern half of Baja California are much more
nearly in contact with the Yuma. General probability would there-
fore lead to an expectation that the focus of the Yuman culture of the
Colorado would be found below the Mohave, among or near the Yuma.
It seems not unlikely that if we could trace the history of this area
sufficiently far back, such would prove to have been the case, but that
in recent centuries the Mohave, owing to an increase in numbers or for
some other reason, have taken the lead in cultural productivity.

Several peculiar traits, some of them positive and some of them
negative, are found in a region which forms a sort of tongue separating
the San Joaquin valley from southern California. This region lacks
pottery, which occurs on both sides ; practices burial instead of crema-
tion; is without exogamic institutions, which are also known both to
the north and south; and is the area in which the so-called "bottle-
neck" basket is dominant. The distribution of these several cultural
elements is not identical, but in general they characterize the peoples
from the southern Yokuts and Tiibatulabal to the Chumash. A
radiation from the latter people can scarcely be thought of because
specifically Chumash features are not found among the peoples inhabit-
ing the more northerly part of the tongue. A possible Shoshonean
influence from the Great Basin must be disallowed on parallel grounds.
In fact, the traits in question are so few and diverse that it is doubtful
whether they have any historical connection. If they are intrinsically
associated it is perhaps chiefly through the fact that this middle upland
region failed to be reached in certain respects by both central and
southern influences.



1920] Kroeber: California Culture Provinces 155

It would of course be a grave mistake to assume that the whole of
each type of culture had emanated from the group or small array of
groups at its focus. Every tribe must be viewed as contributing to
the civilization or civilizations of which it partakes. It is only that
the most intensive development or greatest specialization of culture
has occurred at the hearth. This renders it probable that more influ-
ences have flowed out from the center to the peripheries than in the
opposite direction. But the movement must necessarily always have
been reciprocal in considerable degree. What has probably happened
in many instances is that the tribe which carried a certain set of
practices and institutions farthest came thereby to attain a status in
which it reacted more powerfully upon its neighbors, so that the
civilizational streams which gathered into it were made over and
caused to stream out again. In this sense the central or focal groups
have undoubtedly been influential in coloring to some degree the cul-
ture of their entire areas, while contributing in each case probably
only a very small proportion of the substance thereof.

It need hardty be added that a considerable concentration of popu-
lation would be expectable at the focus of each province, together with
a perceptible thinning out of numbers towards the margins. This, so
far as can be judged, was the case. It is however of interest that
diverse topographies are represented by the centers. In the northwest,
the distinctive physiographic feature of the focal area is streams of
sufficient size to be navigable and rich in salmon; in the central
province, it is the heart of a wide valley; in the south, a group of
islands and a mainland shore washed by still ocean reaches; and in
the southeast, the vast Colorado with its annually overflowed bottom
lands in the midst of a great desert. No single type of physical environ-
ment can therefore be said to have been permanently stimulative to
concentration of numbers and the furtherance of civilization in
California.

BELATIONS OF THE NORTHWEST CALIFORNIA PROVINCE

All the cultures of California are without question at least partly

related in origin to more widely spread civilizations outside the state.

The northwestern culture is obviously part of that generally known

as the culture of the North Pacific coast. The center of this larger

civilization is clearly in British Columbia, but this center is so remote

that any direct comparison of the Yurok and'Hupa with the Kwakiutl

or Haida would be unprofitable. In Washington and Oregon, however,



156 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 17

three subtypes of this culture are recognizable, after exclusion of the
inland culture of the Plateau east of the Cascades, the curiously simple
culture of the Kalapuya in the Willamette valley, and that of the
Lutuamian Klamath and Modoc in the Klamath lake basin. The
three coastal provinces, which alone come into question in a com-
parison with northwestern California, are, in order from the north,
and as sketched in map 1 :

I. Puget Sound, with all or part of the Olympic peninsula, and probably the
southeastern portion of Vancouver island and the opposite coast of British
Columbia. The groups in this area are clearly dependent for much of their
culture on the Kwakiutl and other tribes to the north. Coast Salish groups
are the principal ones in this province.

II. The Lower Columbia, up to the Dalles; with the coast from about Shoal-
water bay on the north to the lower Umpqua river on the south. The Chinook
were nearly central and perhaps dominant. Other members were the Yakonan
Alsea and Siuslaw, the most southerly of the coast Salish, and a few Atha-
bascans.

III. Southwestern Oregon, probably from the Umpqua and Calapooya moun-
tains, and inland to the Cascade range. The principal stream is Rogue river,
but the Coquille and upper Umpqua seem to have formed part. The abutment
is on four ethnic sub-provinces: the Lower Columbian just outlined, the Kala-
puyan of the Willamette, the Lutuamian of the Klamath lake drainage, and
the Northwest Californian of the Klamath river. The majority of the in-
habitants were Athabascans; the other groups were the Kus and Takelma, and a
branch of the Shasta. Tlie Takelma, except for being wholly off the coast, may
be taken as typical.

The table 3 summarizes the principal comparable ethnic traits of
these three regions and of northwestern California. It appears at
once that northwestern California and southwestern Oregon are very
closely related, so much so, in fact, as to constitute but a single area.
They agree at least three times out of four in the cases in which either
of them differs from the Lower Columbia. The latter in turn is

4

clearly much more closely connected with Puget Sound than with
southwestern Oregon whether chiefly as a marginal dependent or, as



3 The table is based chiefly on A. B. Lewis's valuable "Tribes of the
Columbia Valley and the Coast of Washington and Oregon," Memoirs Amer.
Anthr. Assoc., I, 147-209, 1906; George Gibbs, "Tribes of Western Washington
and Northwestern Oregon," Contrib. to North Amer. Ethnology, I, 157-241,
1877; Edward Sapir, "Notes on the Takelma Indians of Southwestern Oregon,''
and "Eeligious Ideas of the Takelma Indians of Southwestern Oregon," Amer.
Anthropologist, n.s., ix, 251-275, 1907, and Jour. Amer. Folk-Lore, xx, 33-49,
1907. Sapir was able to secure only the' veriest scraps of information as to the
perished Takelma culture, but handles them with such discriminating precision
and fine ethnological insight that these fragments, when matched alongside the
fuller data on Yurok and^Hupa civilization, reconstruct astoundingly. The
achievement is the more notable in that Sapir was without personal acquaint-
ance with the Yurok-Hupa culture and that the literary data on it were slender
when he wrote.



1920] Kroeber: California Culture Provinces 157

seems more likely, as a separate center of some distinctness, can
scarcely yet be decided; and need not be in the present connection.
The important fact is that the general culture of the coast is decisively
altered somewhere in the region of the Umpqua mountains, and that
thence south, as far as it prevails at all, that is, to Cape Mendocino,
it is substantially uniform. In other words, we need not recognize
three provinces of the coast culture in Oregon and Washington and
a fourth in California: there were only three south of the forty-ninth
parallel. The first lay in Washington with some extension into
British Columbia ; the second was mainly Oregonian, with some over-
lap into Washington; and the third centered in northern California
but ran well into Oregon.

The cultural predominances of the California over the Oregon tract
within this last area can scarcely be proved outright, because the life
of the tribes of southwestern Oregon broke and decayed very quickly
on contact with the Americans and has been but sadly portrayed. Yet
this very yielding perhaps indicates a looseness of civilizational fiber.
There may have been highly developed rituals held in southwestern
Oregon comparable to the Yurok Deerskin dance, which have not only
perished but been forgotten ; but it is far more likely that the reason
the ceremonies of this region vanished without a trace is that they
never had much elaboration nor a deep hold on native life. The
Gabrielino and Chumash have been longer subject to Caucasian
demoralization and are as substantially extinct as any Oregon group ;
but there is not the least doubt as to their religious and general cultural
preeminence over their neighbors. The southern Wintun have been
cuffed about for a century and are nearly gone, but it is reasonably
clear that the Kuksu cult and culture centered among them. If the
Rogue river tribes had cultivated a religion surpassing or even
rivalling that of the groups on the lower Klamath, it is scarcely con-
ceivable that its very memory' should have dissolved in two generations.

Where direct evidence is available, it uniformly points the same
way. The Yurok house is larger as well as more elaborate than that
of the Takelma; the sweat-house more specialized; their shamanism
appreciably more peculiar; their formulas and myths show a much
more distinct characterization. The Takelma give the imprassion of
being not only on a level similar to that of the Shasta, but specifically
like them in many features; and the Shasta obviously are culturally
subsidiary to the Yurok and Karok. What holds for the Takelma,
there is no reason to doubt held for the Athabascans who nearly



158



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Online LibraryA. L. (Alfred Louis) KroeberCalifornia culture provinces → online text (page 1 of 3)